Earth’s largest landfill isn’t a former junkyard, farm, or barren wasteland. It’s not leaking into neighborhood schools or suburban backyards, and it doesn’t produce mutated alley cats when strays wander in to eat something interesting.
It isn’t even on land.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a massive buildup of trash that’s floating in the Pacific Ocean. How massive? It has currently grown to be the size of Texas. The “island,” also dubbed “chemical soup,” has been one of the worst environmental disasters created by mankind for years–and it’s also been one of its best-kept secrets.
Many people don’t hear about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, simply because it hasn’t been covered by most news outlets. The Patch’s formation is due to A. human waste and B. the North Pacific Gyre. The North Pacific Gyre is a series of revolving currents located north of the Hawaiian Islands. Combined with weaker area currents, they serve to keep the ocean surface steady and calm–as well as to suck in oceanic debris with their high-pressure waves.
The problem, however, isn’t the waves: the problem is polymers–or, more specifically, plastic. Until its invention, the ocean was able to handle the buildup very well, simply using the materials that collected as nutrients for the creatures living in the icy blue depths. But plastic doesn’t dissolve, get absorbed, or get eaten; it just collects and floats–forming the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Researchers claim that up to 80% of the refuse originates from land, not ships or the ocean itself.